Health Care

More | | | Editor

Health centers key to outreach in reform

Saturday, Aug 3, 2013 6:27 PM
Last updated Monday, Aug 19, 2013 12:39 AM
  • Follow Latest News

Two or three times a day, an intense pain crosses Timothy Gazaway’s chest and he wonders if he is having another heart attack. It is likely nerves pinched in his spine, he thinks, but he is not sure.

Back | Next
Timothy Gazaway sits in an exam room with his wife, Melissa, and 2-year-old-granddaughter, Zoey Davis, at Belle Terrace health care clinic.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Timothy Gazaway sits in an exam room with his wife, Melissa, and 2-year-old-granddaughter, Zoey Davis, at Belle Terrace health care clinic.

Because he is uninsured, he has been turned down for surgeries and is only now getting referrals to specialists through Medical Associates Plus at Belle Terrace, a Community Health Center in south Augusta.

He believes having health insurance, which he could sign up for once open enrollment begins in October through the Affordable Care Act, would make a big difference for him next year.

“Doctors wouldn’t hesitate,” to see him, Gazaway said. “They wouldn’t blink an eye.”

But he, like millions of others who will be eligible to enroll, has a lot of questions and some confusion about what will be available under health reform. And places such as Medical Associates are now trying to begin to reach out and educate those who might be helped.

Gazaway, for instance, said he was told that in October “everyone will have mandatory Medicaid or you can apply for it.” But Georgia, like many other states, is not expanding Medicaid despite the fact that the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs for the first three years and no less than 90 percent thereafter.

Gazaway is not alone in the need for education on what is coming, said Janice Sherman, the CEO of Medical Associates, who held an early informational session for some of its patients last week.

“They have no idea,” she said.

Sitting among about a half dozen at Medical Associates, Diamondnique Yancey said the time frame was a surprise.

“I didn’t know it would be this soon,” she said.

Others had simple questions such as whether the premiums for the new insurance will just be charged to their credit cards. That will be one way but those insurance companies that will be selling through the Health Insurance Marketplace will also have to accommodate the “unbanked,” those who don’t have credit cards or checking or bank accounts, said Cindy Zeldin, that executive director for Georgians for a Healthy Future.

A recently proposed rule says the insurance sold through the exchange must “at a minimum accept a variety of payment formats, including, but not limited to, paper checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, and replenishable pre-paid debit cards.”

For Rosalyn Williams, 40, who is studying health administration through the University of Phoenix and working part time, health care right now is strictly a cash transaction.

“I have to think about how much it is going to cost,” she said. “I have to save up this amount of money in order to come back and have this done.”

Those are seemingly basic but important details, Sherman said.

“For the people that we serve, I know that is going to be an issue,” she said.

While the initial meetings are bringing people in, the clinic is also distributing materials at events such as a recent job fair, where the headline on the clinic’s sign, “Uninsured?” drew some questions and interest, said Terri Gant, a community outreach manager.

“You have individuals who are job searching who are underemployed and underserved in health care as well,” she said.

And again, also some who were surprised when she explained it.

“There are quite a few people who are not aware that this is even happening,” Gant said.

The clinic is using a grant to do outreach, which includes a billboard and a phone number for people to call and request information. The clinic is working to hire a bilingual outreach person to help with those who don’t speak English well. The hope is to build up a database and also to help tailor some of the educational materials based on the questions people are asking, Sherman said.

“So that we can start to develop things around responses that would prove more helpful,” she said.

The database will be important for the next phase, which is the follow-up, Sherman said. It will mean getting back to them to find out if they have actually signed up and asking “Do you need help facilitating that?” she said. “Will you come back? It is going to take that kind of work.”

That is likely where the bottleneck will be, Sherman said. The clinic alone has around 2,000 patients who might need to be enrolled.

“That’s a large number of folks to get signed up,” Sherman said.

The clinic is doing that through a federal grant and also plans to do community education and enrollment coordination, which might be trickier.

“It is a little bit easier for us to educate our patients and to involve them and try and facilitate the enrollment,” she said. But there might be a large number of folks who are uninsured who are not even seeking care at this point, Sherman said.

“I think that’s the bigger challenge is how do you reach those,” she said. Medical Associates plans to do outreach at nontraditional places, such as grocery stores, barbershops and hair salons, Sherman said.

Just getting health insurance in some way would be helpful for Gazaway, as family nurse practitioner Diana Ramirez at Medical Associates ran through his list of ills and tried to sort out how many specialists he will need to see. He had an MRI to help diagnose his spinal problems but he can’t get access to it now.

“We’ll just have to start over again,” Ramirez said. She notices he is also on an anticoagulant whose levels need to be monitored.

“Who’s following you on your Coumadin?” Ramirez asks.

“You,” Gazaway said.

At the very least, he comes away with a referral to a cardiologist and he is hopeful for a neurology consultation before September. As bad as he feels, however, his is the least of his family’s problems.

His daughter, Carol-Ann Davis, 21, was diagnosed with advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia in June and doctors have given her less that a year to live, Gazaway said. He and his wife “dropped everything” when she was diagnosed and moved down to the Augusta area from northern Georgia to be with her and her 2-year-old daughter, Zoey.

“We are on rock bottom,” he said. “It’s very rough.”

For now Gazaway and his family are helping to care for Zoey and he dreads eventually having to break the news to her.

“I don’t know how we’re going to explain it,” he said.

Comments (9) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
IBeDogGone
2982
Points
IBeDogGone 08/03/13 - 07:11 pm
5
0
I Applaud you Ms. Sherman and Belle Terrace

No matter what you opinion on Affordable Care Act it is going to happen and education is of upmost importance to both the insured and uninsured. Georgia has been one of the last states to start education and even negotiate carriers. I work as billing and coding manager of a FQHC practice with 42 providers in another state and it breaks my heart when reviewing some EMR's the healthcare needs of good hardworking people who have fallen to hard times. No I do not like my tax money paying for people who will not work to provide insurance for their families but I do not mind my taxed going to help the truly needy. My view is the self employed and patients with true needs that do not meet requirements will now have more options.

whozit
147
Points
whozit 08/03/13 - 08:28 pm
2
6
The shame

The shame of this is that our governor and legislature made a purely political choice not to expand Medicaid. he federal government is going to pay 100% for the first three years and 90% after that. In addition to that money, it has been reported it would have resulted in around $275 million in economic activity and 70,000 private sector jobs. But our faithful Republican governor and legislature decided GA didn't need those things.

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 08/04/13 - 07:20 am
5
1
Economic Activity

Oh, my, when the pitchmen have to resort to the "economic activity" argument you know you've got a boondoggle on your hands. It was the "economic activity" voodoo that got us sucked into the TEE Center rathole — dollars being sucked from our wallets and into Riverfront LLC's coffers.

Whozit's touted $275 million economic activity will be going to government bureaucrats and politically connected cronies. The 70,000 private sector jobs will be leeches sucking our emaciated skin.

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 08/04/13 - 08:17 am
0
0
The "federal government is paying ZERO". Working taxpayers
Unpublished

are paying for their own and others health care premiums and services.

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 08/04/13 - 08:18 am
0
0
The federal government pays for nothing. Ignorant mentality.
Unpublished

The federal government pays for nothing. Ignorant mentality.

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 08/04/13 - 08:19 am
0
0
Plantation charity or slavery? You pick your poison.
Unpublished

Plantation charity or slavery? You pick your poison.

southern2
6008
Points
southern2 08/04/13 - 10:23 am
3
1
Keeps popping in my

Keeps popping in my head....From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. Karl Marx

The kind of stuff that used to send America to war to defend itself against!

whozit
147
Points
whozit 08/04/13 - 01:27 pm
1
1
Little Lamb

A favorite Republican tactic is hen you cannot attack the facts, make some specious generalized argument using keywords provided by the pitchmen of the right. These numbers were drawn from an editorial in the Chronicle, hardly a left leaning publication.

carcraft
25176
Points
carcraft 08/04/13 - 02:26 pm
0
1
Facts, you want facts? OK,

Facts, you want facts? OK, if this is so wonderful why did Congress and their aids get exempted? Well because they didn't want their premiums to increase and their benefits decrease. This is the same reason the unions are opposing it! Right now medical groups try to balance their payer mix. Many medical groups limit medicare patients to stay solvent, so what is going to happen to people with limited coverage insurance. Then we get to the FACT that Max Baccus Senator from Montana who cowrote the bill calls it's implementation a "train wreck "! Another inconvenient FACT is that we are using 6 years of taxes to provide 4 years of care. What do we do when that money runs out! Enough facts?

carcraft
25176
Points
carcraft 08/04/13 - 02:35 pm
1
1
Another fun "FACT " look at

Another fun "FACT " look at the jobs numbers, mostly part time and low pay entry level jobs, gee you
think employers don't want to get stuck providing jobs requiring health care. Do you wonder why Obama delayed the employer mandate for a year so Democrates don't get creaked in the mid terms! Naw, couldn't be true could it? BWAHAHAHAHA

corgimom
31150
Points
corgimom 08/04/13 - 04:55 pm
1
1
Listen up, people- the money

Listen up, people- the money that people pay for health insurance is going to be coming out of what used to be disposable income.

Restaurants, bars, retail, amusements, etc- they are going to all take a big hit. Look for this.

mybaskett
220
Points
mybaskett 08/04/13 - 09:09 pm
0
1
Whozit

Please note that not expanding Medicaid is not a bad idea. The Government is notorius for not keeping a promise. Our state could not handle this burden. We could end up looking like Detroit.

If you think this is great and chaos is not going to happen, Please go and watch the hearings on this issue. The individual that is responsible for implementing ACA could not give definitive answers on anything. He couldn't even say if a trial application had been submitted and was free of errors. He needed to get back with Congress. Enrollment begins on October 1st. this is more about meeting a deadline than getting it right.

And for those with pre-existing conditions they have until January 1st 2014 to enroll. After that the rule no longer applys. They are working on other ways to pay for this, but they found that there were not a lot of people signing up. And because people were not signing up, the funding wasn't there to pay for the program.

We all know that everything that sounds good isn't always good.

If we were to lose our Insurance We have decided not to sign up. Supreme court says that even though it is a law you can choose to pay the penalty and not enroll. I would rather pay cash for visits and pay the penalty in the end. Why? Because i haven't read all 2500 pages and I have no intentions to do so. At least not before October.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 08/05/13 - 07:00 am
0
0
It's a shame Georgia's
Unpublished

It's a shame Georgia's leaders wish to remain behind-the-times. As for having to start paying the bill for those lazy people that don't want to work- they're already set up for coverage with Medicaid. The ACA will help those who are underinsured, temporarily unemployed, underpaid but work. The federal government will pay 100% for a while, then 90%- I'd much rather have taxpayer money go towards healthcare for American citizens rather than handouts to banks and corporations (with record CEO bonuses) and wars. If we're going to blow money, blow it where it counts.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs